Posted by Dianne
It’s the cycle of life, the way things were meant to be. Like I tell my children, embrace change: it is the only constant in life. And change is upon us here at Women Unplugged. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you and will continue to do so, only elsewhere… BloominThyme for you gardeners. My author website for the romance lover in you. New this year, I’ve begun a children’s series using the pen name DS Venetta called Wild Tales & Garden Thrills — fun fiction for ages 7 – 10 centered around an organic garden. Book #1 Show Me The Green! has been released with book #2 about school gardens on the way this spring.
Also new this spring is book #4 in my popular Silver Creek series. Only With You takes readers on an adventure in the sky as helicopter pilots Roan Phillips and Kelly Jones struggle to save their friends from an avalanche. It’s a mountain adventure you won’t soon forget.
For the gardening enthusiasts, don’t miss my annual “Authors in Bloom” where your favorite authors share their gardening tips and favorite recipes, plus offer prizes and SWAG! It’s 10 days of nonstop giveaways beginning April 7th.
Sign up for my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know what’s new and exciting. But wherever that might be, let’s keep in touch. Here’s to a fantastic 2016!
I’m currently deep in the middle of writing my third book. Like, thirty thousand(ish) words to go and a looming deadline deep. Yoga pants and messy hair and not enough showers deep. Deeeeeep.
All that goes to say, when I sat down to write today’s blog post, I couldn’t even contemplate coming up with another 500 words. Sorry, y’all, but I got nuthin’.
But Women Unplugged is a blog about books, and raving about other people’s books is so much easier than talking about mine, so here are a few I love from brilliant fellow authors.
Jonathan Tropper is an automatic buy for me. I don’t even bother reading the back cover, just point my mouse at the one-click shopping button. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me wish he would write faster. I love all his books, but How to Talk to a Widower is my absolute favorite.
Allison Winn Scotch has such a great voice, and she writes characters I want to be BFFs with. Time of My Life is not her latest, but she smashed it out of the park — and onto the NYT list — with this one.
A hunky chef, a snarky writer, and a story that sticks with you long after you turn the last page. The First Husband is a charming tale about finding your soul mate, and my favorite of all of Laura Dave’s novels.
Bridget Asher has a new one coming out this fall and I can hardly wait. Her last one, Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, is heartbreaking and hilarious, a love story within a love story, and bonus! It’s set in beautiful France.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this one. Julie Buxbaum writes so beautifully about love and loss and the secrets we hide from our families and ourselves. After You will haunt you long after The End.
If you read any of these, I hope you’ll let me know what you think!
I’ll admit, when I came up with the idea for The Ones We Trust—a story with a military bent—I was more than a little nervous about writing it. I didn’t grow up in a military family. I’ve never lived in a military town. The number of soldiers I have as friends can be counted on one hand. What did I know about war stories? And more importantly, could I do one any justice?
A military angle is one I knew would hit home with a lot of readers. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends or neighbors… pretty much every American family has been touched in some way by war. What if I got it wrong, and offended people along the way?
Because war doesn’t just take place on a battlefield, and our soldiers aren’t the only heroes. What about the parents who send off their sons and daughters, the spouses and siblings and children left waiting at home? They are just as heroic and courageous, their sacrifices different, maybe, but just as great as the men and women fighting on the front lines. Above all, I wanted to be respectful to everyone, not just the soldiers but also the people who love them.
But I wrote the story anyway, and it was scary as hell, but The Ones We Trust is about more than just war. Yes, the story hinges around what, exactly, happened to the soldier on the battlefield, but the real story is about the people left behind. About how they cope and carry on. About how they find hope for the future. That’s what I hope sticks with readers the most–that even after great tragedy, there can be a better tomorrow.
My second novel, The Ones We Trust, comes out in less than three weeks. Three weeks! I have a million things to do before the launch, and less than three weeks to do them in. You’d think I’d be better prepared, seeing as I wrote the first draft of this book all the way back in 2009.
Yes, you read that right. This little baby hasn’t officially been born yet, and already she’s six years old. If she were human, she’d be walking, going to school, and reading at a third-grade level already. She’d have adult teeth! She was also the first novel I ever actually completed.
Here’s a harsh truth about getting published: hardly any writer ever sells their first book. The first one is generally considered a practice novel, the one where you learn as you go and make lots of mistakes along the way, the biggest thinking anyone would ever want to read it besides your mother. You’re supposed to write it, shove it in a box under your bed, and move on to the next one, one where you actually (kinda sorta) know what you’re doing. I was fully prepared to do that, too, except this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It kept whispering to me from under the bed. Fix me, it said. I have a story to tell.
So I rewrote it, and then I rewrote it again and again (and again). I fixed the tone and the voice, matured my main character, Abigail, deepened her backstory to intensify the conflict. I added a subplot and a whole slew of new characters. I killed my darlings and switched genres, multiple times. I lost a lot of sleep and I shed a lot of tears.
In the end, one plotline never changed—the slain soldier’s story. Though we never actually meet him on the page, The Ones We Trust is built around what, exactly, happened to him on the battlefield. His family needs to know in order to move on, and Abigail is determined to help them by uncovering the truth. This plotline was the crux of every single rewrite, a red thread leading the way.
We writers talk a lot about how some stories need to be told. This was one of them. The little story that could. It took me six years and a million wasted words, but when it hits the shelves in three short weeks, all the work will be worth it.
With only a few books under my belt, I guess you could say I’m fairly new at this writing gig. There are some things I’ve learned along the way ~ that I’m a morning writer, that I write best in an empty house, that getting up and switching to a new spot will loosen up almost every plot knot ~ but there’s far more I’m still figuring out. What is my process? Am I a pantser or a plotter? Why can’t I write faster? Do I have a muse, and where is she when I need her? Will writing a book ever get any easier?
Most authors will tell you the answer to that last one is a big, fat no. Writing doesn’t get easier, because you never write the same book twice. Plots get more complicated, characters become better developed, motivations and conflicts become more intertwined. These are all good things, because it means you’re pushing yourself, and becoming a better author. But believe me when I say they can also account for a lot of sleepless nights.
And now that I have real readers, people I don’t know but who buy my book anyway, I have a whole host of new worries. That they won’t relate to my characters, that the plot won’t resonate, that they won’t like my second book as much as the first, that they’ll get bored of me and stop buying. Strangers tell me all the time what they love about my books, but also what they hate. It’s hard to write the next one without them–the critics and the fans–sitting on your shoulder.
Sometimes, writing feels like punishment, like a 90,000-word mountain I can’t and don’t want to climb. But when a new story idea wakes me in the middle of the night, when I hear my characters’ voices as clearly as if they’re sitting in the room next to me, when the words flow and the imagery sings and the dialogue crackles off the page, those moments make all the hard times worth it. Getting words on the page is not easy, and it’s not always fun, but I love it anyway.